Skip to main content

1992 Olympics: Dream Team vs Croatia

Dražen croatia vs spain

On July 27th, 1992, the U.S. men's national basketball team — more commonly referred to as The Dream Team played against Croatia in the group phase who was at that time considered to be one of the best teams in Europe.

Back when the NBA wanted to galvanize the global marketing of the league, they worked it out so the NBA pros would get to play for Team USA. This resulted in the 1992 team in Barcelona consisting of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, and Christian Laettner. Needless to say, the U.S. was favored to win the gold medal.

Their first big test was going to come in the second game of the prelims when they faced off against Croatia. The Dream Team won their first game 116-48 against Angola and Croatia won their first game 93-76 against Brazil. It was time to see if both sides were as good as advertised.

The Dream Team started Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, and David Robinson. Croatia countered with Danko Cvjeticanin, Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja, and Stojko Vrankovic. This was a talented Croatian team that was definitely worthy of the US taking them seriously. But even as the announcers stated early on in the game, the odds were very much against the Croatians:

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"This is the NBA pros – five of them – against four of them who are good enough to play in the pros and one other.”

That shade being thrown is headed the way of Danko Cvjeticanin. Petrovic played for the New Jersey Nets, Kukoc was headed over to the Chicago Bulls a year later, Radja had been drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1989 and was headed there in 1994, and Stanko Vrankovic was playing for the Celtics already. Cvjeticanin played 17 years in Europe and would eventually serve as a scout for the Sixers from 1998-2010. He's now a scout for the Nets.

It took maybe two seconds for the Dream Team to score and start flexing its muscles.

That's the cool thing about this Dream Team experience: there were just so many open court plays on both ends of the floor. If you managed to get out and run on them a little bit, they'd track you down. If you couldn't keep up with them in the open floor (and few could), they'd make a highlight reel out of you.

The final score is 103-70, which would be the lowest margin of victory for the Dream Team before these two teams would meet again in the gold medal game. USA Basketball won that gold medal matchup by 32 points.

Having steamrolled through the competition by 43.8 points per game en route to an 8-0 record, the Dream Team — made up of 11 Hall of Fame players— has since been labeled the greatest sports team ever assembled. And rightfully so.

New Jersey Nets forward Kenyon Martin

“Everything after that was just basketball” — Kenyon Martin revealed the best moment of his career

For K-Mart, being drafted in the NBA was monumental but not a dream-come-true.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Philadelphia 76ers forward Georges Niang

“Now, you can’t even sneeze on a guy” — Gary Vee on why he prefers the physicality of old-school basketball over today’s NBA

Vee explained that the physicality back in the day was more than just players punching or close-lining each other but also about mental toughness and perseverance.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and TNT analyst Charles Barkley

“I’m slow. That’s probably the problem” — Luka Doncic responds to Charles Barkley suggesting the Dallas Mavericks have to play faster

Luka Doncic is a wizard in the halfcourt, but he agrees with Charles Barkley that the Dallas Mavericks have to play faster.